The only one I know – a Pointless blog

This is a slightly different blog. It’s not really about running. But running is mentioned so I can get away with it. Plus it’s my blog, so I’m calling this one. Back in March my friend Iain (who I did my comeback 10k with back in June 2011 – so is allowed and I went to Elstree to film the primetime Quiz Show Pointless. It was on the telly last night, so should be on catch up if you fancy it. Now both of us have previous. We are perennial quiz show losers. We were both part of the Gecko team who were humiliated on Eggheads.


Iain was a second away from a hefty prize on the Chase. So we didn’t expect much, the aim was to get through to the final round on one of the two shows (losers get another chance) and simply get that coveted Pointless trophy. We were being flown down to London to spend 2 days there, as no one knows who is appearing on what show. The night before going down I got really bad toothache and didn’t sleep a wink, I was knackered getting to the airport. Met Iain at Edinburgh and down we went to Luton, then a train out to Elstree. I was being grumpy as grumpy can be with the relentless pain so it was a quest for strong strong painkillers, and then cake as we waited for “our time”. As we approached the studio we were met with a queue of people who were queueing for the filming. Shit got real. We wandered in to the meeting point, and other couples started to arrive. We were eyeballing them. They were the people standing between us and that majestic trophy. Except they weren’t. They were electricians having a cup of tea. Sorry lads. The real couples started to arrive. We all avoided each other. Sneering like Billy Idol eating a lemon. A researcher came and brought us all into the real buildings. Our clothes were taken away, 5 outfits to be dissected by wardrobe. Conversation starting, but stilted. Myself and Iain were in the changing area with a fella called Sandy, originally from Prestonpans but now a West End Star with his own fan club called the Smoffats. We were taken to the green room, which in reality was a big glass room in the middle of a courtyard that we weren’t allowed to leave unless accompanied. Toilet breaks were timed and counted. And you weren’t allowed to look at Bradley Walsh who was walking by to film the Chase in the studio next door. Maybe I exaggerate a little. There were already another 5 or 6 couples there, so by process of eliminations we had worked out that if we were lucky then 2 of the teams we were with would get on a show that day. Chat started spread round the room now. The researchers made us play the Pointless Board game which some of the couples started taking a wee bit seriously…. People were eyeing up potential victors. The Smoffats were on fire. I threw in a “Mel and Kim” as I popped painkiller after painkiller to establish us as not as thick as we looked. Eventually the last show of the day was to be filmed. There were 2 surviving couples, one of which had Johnny and Matt from Sunderland determined not to hit any more 100 pointers. This could be our chance. But no, The Smoffats were selected, and the Welsh sisters were also selected, so after the dullest day in the world we would be back the next day to do it all again. We trekked the 3 or so miles to the Holiday Inn with our cases and decided to walk the 3 miles back again in search of some food. Found a Wetherspoons, which was also showing the champions league, so our wee bite to eat ended up being some food, plenty of painkillers and a “couple” of beers. Stoated back to the hotel and bumped into the Welsh sisters, who although sworn to secrecy may have let us know that Johnny and Matt had jammily scooped the jackpot. Another night of no sleep. More pain than having a St Mirren season ticket. Went for breakfast and were bizarrely sitting beside Guy Loveday who had lectured me a couple of months earlier on ACCA matters. Now look at him, he can’t be mistaken for anyone else.


Wandered the 3 miles to the studio and in we went. We were definitely being filmed today so were given a tour of the set and a chance for a quick photo and warned NOT to ask Richard or Alexander for a selfie.

Our outifts had been chosen. Or outfit in my case. Four rejected, not sure if 3 of them due to my tattoos on my arms. Went for makeup and the makeup girls said they liked my image with the mod scarf but sadly wardrobe didn’t agree. It was time. WE WERE IN. It was to be the Smoffats, the Welsh sisters, us and Tom and Nina.


Now we had done our bios weeks in advance. Mine was all about running. So was Tom’s. The researcher said Tom could talk about running but I wasn’t to. I was to talk about music. No running. Music. Easy to remember. OK. Through we went and the crowd applauded us on. The warm up man predicted Iain and I would win. Aye very good. Before we know it we are under the lights, Alexander and Richard over shaking hands, making small talk. I was shitting myself.The tune kicks in….


By this stage it is surreal.Like a mad trip. Maybe that’s the lack of sleep and the painkillers. First round comes up and it’s words. Ending in -UST.


Sandy goes first. 20 points.Iain goes next. Oust for 15. Decent enough score.But the next two teams score very low.


Man, the waiting. The nerves were bad. My legs were shaking. I start to confuse myself. Do I say mistrust or distrust. Are they both actually words? You really start to doubt yourself.


Tom is introduced, he is a runner, he’s training for a marathon. Grrr, he got there first…. He scores well. Over to me and the red line is at 5. Aye I have to score less than 5 to ensure in the next round. I babble something about my work then Alexander asks me what I do as a hobby. Must not mention running . Must talk about music.Music, music, music, no running, running is for Tom, I am not Tom. “I’m a runner as well Alexander, and I’ll race Tom after the show, good for a tie break”. The audience sniggers but I feel the gaze of 25 researchers. I am bad. I have broken the rule. I will be badly edited. And never be on the BBC again.


Anyway, I need less than 5. Mistrust and distrust now gone from head as I start to doubt they exist. I feel the red dot on my head. I know one of the researchers has a sniper rifle on me for mentioning running. I’m sorry, I like running! I’ve got a blog! Legs still shaking and I go for combust.It’s right and starts to move down, I am relieved.


Need 5 or less. It stops at 4. Boom. Pressure of the first round exit gone. Sneaked through. I have sent the Smoffats home and sealed their fate. A shame as they had some good answers too, but it’s your luck at the end of the day.


Through to round 2. Three couples left. img_2739

Famous people. Since Iain went first last time we agree that I will go first this time. And the category is….


I know I am to go first as we were high scorers in the previous round. I have choice of board. That’s a good thing.


Until my nervous knackered mind got confused again. Tim Peake. Or is it Tim Peakes. They will penalise me. I KNOW it’s Peake!!! Tim Howard instead I will go for. Shit is it Tim Flowers? I KNOW it’s Howard but my mind is not dealing with the pressure that great. Alexander thinks I know all the answers. I thank him for his misguided optimism and go for…. Tim Brooke Taylor…. Bottle crashed again.


I know it’s right, but worry how many folk remember him. Sadly it’s a lot and the number stop at 40.


It’s up to Iain now. I’m fortunate in  that no one in my run scored particularly well, so we weren’t out of it. When The Charlatans one came up I knew that would get us through as long as no one else said it. Tim Farren for Tom, Tim Burgess for us and a bizarrely low 4 points for the great man himself. Yes music! Running is rubbish, I love music!!


We were through. Tom and Nina were knocked out to fight another day, or for Tom to prepare for our race, as ourselves, 2 Scotsmen and the Welsh sisters got into Round 3 to face the category of…. England’s Greatest Places….. aye you couldn’t make it up.


Pictures and missing letters. I knew 3 of them but Iain, the cartographer that he is, got Saltaire straight away.


I’m not going to disagree with him. So answer locked.


Eight points, good score, but beatable. Luckily the girls came up just short and we were one up.


Second question.


More missing letters? OK. Expected something different but it is random. Straight away I had four. Conferred with Iain who didn’t know the 5th and agreed with my logic of what would be our best shot.


Giovanna and Francesca were up first and went for Rumplestiltskin which I thought was the most obvious one but you just never know. I got the chance to talk through the bulk of the board, settling on my answer of The Frog Prince.


The girls seemed shocked that Rumplestiltskin scored so high when they hit 82. Again the luck of the draw, they knew some of the others.


We were fortunate that the Frog Prince scored 10 and we were through to the final. 2-0.


I have to be honest and admit I had never heard of the twelve huntsmen. I’m sure it’s good… probably about huntsmen. And there may be 12 of them.


Handshakes given and job done. I’m totally honest here. All we wanted was the trophies. They were all ours now. We were quite pleased 🙂 Sad eh? But true.


We had a bit of smalltalk with Alexander here about Iain’s favourite Armstrong and Miller sketch, shown here, helped us relax a bit.


As I said, Johnny and Matt had won the day before so only 1000 in the pot.


We were asked what we would like and discussed music. And the wonderful Teenage Fanclub since that’s how Iain and I know each other. Richard was a fan. Alexander pretended to have heard of them.




And the options came up. Cringe. Where was Madchester? Or Scottish music? Or even the life and times of Steve Ovett? Even great maps of the 20th century?


Iain had done a bit of prep on the Royals, I knew nothing. I fancied year 2000, Iain thought it was too random. So we thought we had better go for the music one, though I had no confidence on it at all.


Ouch. If you saw the show you’ll know my thoughts. Many folk will get this straight away. Three pointless answers. I have never seen Blood Brothers. I haven’t heard Bad Blood let alone seen the video. And I think Coldplay are the spawn of Satan. The first words I utter are “I can’t stand Coldplay “. Iain agrees. Twitter both calls us dicks and agrees with us. I can handle that.


We are flapping. We know Clocks from that album but so does everyone. We start thinking of who are Taylor Swift’s pals and therefore might be in the video. I can’t remember Ed Sheehan’s name and spend 20 seconds trying to describe him. Iain mentions Cara Delevingne. We agree to punt on it. At the last minute we throw in Fix you. Three awful answers. Luck of the draw. We have to tell them to Alexander.


We go through the thing where you say where you’ll spend your money if you win. Even though we know we won’t. Marathon du Mont St Michel for me. Bucket list.



Alexander talks to the board. Cara Delevingne. It’s right. It goes down.


And keeps going down.


And down. Oh feck. I actually think we have it!!!


Down to 6!!! No way!!!


Our faces of disbelief were a picture. But it freezes at one. So close.


Clocks scores 10.


And fix you was wrong.


When Coldplay came up There was one I knew, God put a smile, ah well. The other 2 categories? Didn’t have a scooby.


And that was that.Got my trophy, a bit smaller than it looks on the telly.



And to top it off Tim Burgess liked my tweet after taking to Twitter to discuss the flip side of fame, being an answer on Pointless, and only 4 people knowing who you are 🙂



So there you go. It was right good fun. We got the trophies. Won no money, and I came home, got emergency dental treatment the next day on my 45th birthday then went out and ran my first sub 90 half marathon at Alloa. ( See? More running. I never got to race Tom but he’s back on Pointless tonight. Good luck to him.

The obvious song choice would be by Coldplay, but nah, this one is for Mr Burgess, and dedicated to Cara, the only one in that video that we knew…


Cheers Iain for a right good laugh.

One thought on “The only one I know – a Pointless blog

  1. Pingback: Intro – The Running Awards 2017 | markgallmac

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